Fiction, Uncategorized

Don Giulio

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Don Giulio’s favourite

 

Tell my son’ said the body lying on the bed. The words spilled out with all the force she could muster ‘tell my son if you can, that I have cancer. That I will like to know how he is before I die’

Don Giulio stepped out of the clinic gate, a new responsibility on his shoulders. He was the chaplain of a prison in the south of Italy; a prison that housed many members of the Italian mafia. Including a boy, a young man of twenty – three. Of him, Don Giulio knew only two facts. That he was like the other mafias whose goal was power and only power; And, that he had a mother who was on her deathbed in Rome.

‘Things will sort themselves out’ he mused to himself, his over-rational self as he liked to call it. How best to communicate the message to the boy was his worry. ‘Tell my son…’ the dying woman had said. ‘Dear Holy Spirit of God’ Don Giulio prayed ‘may this son listen!’

 

The boy was weeping inside his whitewashed cell. ‘I have no mother’ he had screamed, banging the door in Don Giulio’s face. Yet, he was weeping. Don Giulio remained standing outside, listening to it. It was saying for the umpteenth time that the thread that connects man to the Good has not and will never be lost, whatever happens.

Footsteps. Sounds not of weeping. A prison warden with his keys dangling from his hips. Don Giulio beckoned to him and pointed to the door screen.

Now Don Giulio could see him. The boy without a mother was still crying.

‘You do have a mother’ Don Giulio maintained ‘How fortunate you are! Without her, you will not be a man’.

‘Yes, a man’ he said, as the young man’s bowed head jerked up and back down again. ‘You won’t be a man and much less, a mafia’.

And he stepped out of this other door, one less responsibility off his broad shoulders.

‘Now let the young man cry’ it said to him. There will be time for conversation later.

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Musings

AN OPEN LETTER TO NYSC’S DG, BRIG.-GEN. JOHNSON OLAWUMI

13/08/14

AN OPEN LETTER TO NYSC’S DG, BRIG.-GEN. JOHNSON OLAWUMI

Dear Sir,

NYSC CAMP AND EBOLA: GETTING THERE IN GOOD TIME

Two months ago, the NYSC cancelled her end of service year and passing out parade activities for the Batch B 2013 corp members. I was among those affected. While we missed the opportunity offered by the parade of getting together with fellow corp members and friends from various local government areas, we understood the underlying reason for this decision. We appreciated the fact that the NYSC had our safety, the safety of Nigerian youths, very much at heart. We understood that gatherings such as the parade provided a mouth-watering temptation to any one with a suicidal bombing intention in mind. Plus, the decision was very much in line with the NYSC vision ‘of developing a scheme that is dynamic enough to meet new challenges …’. Then, as it still is now, security of lives first and property is a challenge in the country.

On the 25th of July, 2014, an American-Liberian citizen was confirmed dead in Lagos, Nigeria. The cause of death was the deadly Ebola Virus Disease. Since then, more cases have been recorded in the country and tens of persons have been quarantined in a bid to stop the spread of the disease. The country is, as the Health minister, Dr. Chukwu, puts it, in a state of ‘national health emergency’. Everyone either is, or is trying to be, on guard. There are measures to screen out-bound passengers from Nigeria. Air passengers now have to self-declare their health status before disembarking from the plane. According to Dr. Sani Gwarzo, director of port health services, it is now mandatory for pilots to declare any event in the air especially cases of vomiting, bleeding, high fever, etc. Border controls are tighter in Nigeria and some countries have placed travel bans on persons from certain parts of Africa. The Nigerian customs service is now on Red alert as declared by her comptroller-General, Dikko Inde Abdullahi CFR.

Health care givers are also on the alert for their safety and that of their family. Sanitary products – hand sanitizers, hand wash, bleaches, clinical alcohol, etc. – are being bought off their shelves in the stores. The number of hands being washed regularly by their owners has increased tremendously and is still increasing. Even the sellers of bitter kola, claimed to stop Ebola virus, are not left out. They are smiling more and more to the bank.

The NYSC poised to ‘…become the leading light of youth organization in Africa’ cannot remain in the dark. Thousands of young Nigerian graduates are living together, since August 5th, in the different orientation camps across the country. They are in groups of over 20 in a room and despite NYSC good intentions, sanitary conditions are at its best, only fair. In most camps, the situation leans more towards being worse. They will eat, work, train and sweat together. So they will remain for 21 days, just enough time for Ebola virus total and complete incubation. The virus is no human. It doesn’t need to be tempted. It neither needs to plan or prepare like the suicide bomber. It just acts. It strikes! Such gatherings like the NYSC orientation camps provide a splendid opportunity for the widespread, literally speaking, of the disease in the zones where these graduates with a fluorescent-lit future will be deployed to at the end of the camp. Then we will have national health emergency plus plus. Then all the efforts to curtail the disease will be like a drop in the ocean of Ebola.

It is not too late. If we want, we can go ahead of Ebola virus. I congratulate your efforts to prevent the scourge among the corp members in the various camps particularly those in Lagos state. Many of my friends are there. I know that every corp member upon registration received some anti-malaria drugs. The aim, I suppose, is to eliminate malaria as an ailment when diagnosing any corper with high fever, vomiting, etc. These symptoms are also those of the Ebola virus disease. I also know that the camp directors have been directed to close the camp gates against anyone returning to camp whether after a partial exeat or a full exit.  A friend who had gotten a partial exeat was asked to go back to where she came from, upon reporting back to camp on 12/08/14. That way other corp members do not get to share with her especially if she had contracted the disease.

While I laud these initiatives, I protest that they are not enough. The NYSC CAN DO MORE. The NYSC can call off the ongoing orientation camp as it called off the ongoing end of service year activities in June this year. True, the two activities are not on the same scale. True, it will entail many inconveniences, to both management and corp members, and serious logistical considerations. But what is that compared to human lives, the lives of the leaders of tomorrow? It is one thing to prevent ‘outsiders’ from coming in; it’s another to deal with ‘insiders’ who may, most unfortunately, be incubating the Ebola virus. Prevention is always better than cure. Let the NYSC foresee the future, they don’t have to look too far. Let us be forewarned so as to be forearmed. The second stream of deployed graduates is set to begin the orientation camp in September.  Should they proceed to live together in camp as if we have no problem on our hands? Time, and you Sir, will tell.

Arise o compatriots; Nigeria call obey

To serve our fatherland; with love and strength and faith

May serving our fatherland not lead to our death through ineptitude.

Youths obey the clarion call; let us lift our nation high

Under the sun and in the rain; with dedication and selflessness

Nigeria is ours, Nigeria we serve.

Ebola is neither the scorching sun nor the biting cold. Let the youths remain alive to fully answer this call. Let the citizens who make up Nigeria stay alive to be appropriately served.

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ViMP

On your marks… set….GO!

Sometime in April 1994, over 800,000 Tutsis were massacred by their brother Hutus in the East African country of Rwanda.

Sometime in April 2014, about 80 commuters were killed in the Nyanya bomb blast in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria.

Sometime in April, 2014, over 200 girls were abducted from a secondary school in Borno, leaving their parents and relatives in heart rending agony.

Now! Sometime in April in the year of the Lord 2014, 50 very important ‘Tedtalks’ givers assembled for a networking and learning conference, as I like to call it, in the prestigious Lagos Business School of Nigeria. The conference is called Venture in Management Programme and it occupied these 50 Nigerian Youth Corpers for 5 days.

Are you ready to participate in (relive) these five days through my eyes? Hmm! I read your eager ‘Yes!’ – sit back, relax and tighten your seat belts. Here we go o o o …zrrrrrrrrr!

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